Australia’s vineyards are going way beyond wine and food by embarking on remarkable art and design experiences in an effort to entice visitors with the promise of something more than a glass of chilled Riesling. Across the major wine growing regions of South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, luxury resorts among the vines are giving wine lovers new reasons to visit.

Art, design, food and wine lure visitors to Australia’s vineyards

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Tourist fly into the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia.
Tourist fly into the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia. Photo Credit: Como Hotels and Resorts

“I thought, wine is such a puzzle to work out, what’s the most iconic puzzle? The Rubik’s cube.” 
– Chester Osborn and the D’Arenberg Cube in South Australia.

Perhaps the most remarkable new vineyard attraction in Australia is the d’Arenberg Cube in South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region. 

The multi-storey feat of architecture at the d’Arenberg vineyard houses public and private tasting rooms, virtual fermenters, bars and a restaurant in a structure resembling a half-solved Rubik’s cube. 

The idea to build the d’Arenberg Cube was inspired by the complexities and puzzles of winemaking.

“I thought, wine is such a puzzle to work out, what’s the most iconic puzzle? The Rubik’s cube,” said its creator, Chester Osborn, a member of the Osborn family that has owned and operated the d’Arenberg property for more than 100 years.

Each of the five levels has been designed to entice and excite the senses, including features such as a wine sensory room, a virtual fermenter, a 360degree video room, and other tactile experiences.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the Alternate Realities Museum, located on the ground floor, and view the many art installations on display.

The Cube is crowned with 16 hydraulic umbrellas – 15 black and one red – that open in a choreographed sequence of movement.

The d’Arenberg Cube joins several other “wine + design” experiences around Australia, including a sculpture park, cellar door and fine dining restaurant at Point Leo Estate vineyard, on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula.

Featuring more than 50 large-scale contemporary works set against ocean views, vines, cattle and native gardens, the vineyard is complemented by a barrel-shaped main building housing an oversized cellar door and 110-seat restaurant.

Mornington Peninsula is also home to Australia’s hottest new vineyard hotel, the 46-room Jackalope, which opened in April 2017. Named after a mythical creature, the hotel combines art, design, food and storytelling in a visually stunning experience. 

Elsewhere in Victoria, Michelton Vineyard’s new hotel and spa includes The Muse, Australia’s largest underground cellar, including an art gallery showcasing indigenous art.

Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia offers tours across the country’s major wine growing regions. Wine and design experiences includes the Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series Dinner in Margaret River, Western Australia, a three-night VIP stay at Brown Brothers winery in Milawa, Victoria, and a two-day wine and dine experience in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. 

CHINA LIKES A TIPPLE

China expects to become the second-largest market for wine by 2021, replacing the United Kingdom, as young consumers’ preferences are evolving, experts have said.

China’s wine market size is expected to reach US$23 billion in sales revenue by 2021 with an average annual growth rate of more than 30%, according to a report released by Vinexpo, one of the largest global exhibitions for wine and spirits, and the International Wine and Spirit Research.

Vinexpo chief executive Guillaume Deglise said, “In China, knowledge and educational background are gradually replacing wealth as the symbol of people’s social status. And wine sales benefit from this change.”

Deglise said women show a special preference for wine compared with men because “drinking wine is more elegant than drinking beer”.

Wine preferences vary by region within China. People in the east are said to prefer earthy, rich reds; those in the west favour elegant, soft styles; those in the north look for bold, drier reds; and those in the south prefer smoother red styles.

Wine Australia’s recent Export Report shows a continuation of the very strong growth of wine exports to mainland China, though the Asian region as a whole is increasingly attracting a lot of interest and attention from exporters.
Australian wine exports to the Greater Asia region are valued at more than $964 million – 63% of those exports go to mainland China – 29% go to other key Asian destinations, namely Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. 

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